World News – GB – NASA News: ‘Never-before-seen’ footage shows moment OSIRIS-REx lands on asteroid Bennu


The historic mission saw NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft briefly mark the asteroid more than 200 million miles from Earth On Tuesday, October 20, OSIRIS-REx deployed its robotic arm and fell several hundred meters to a designated landing point the size of a small parking lot OSIRIS-REx then made contact with Bennu for about six seconds, collecting dust and rock samples for return to Earth.

The mission marked NASA’s first attempt to collect asteroid samples and took place a year after the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) bombed the asteroid Ryugu to fly over samples of debris

The samples collected are now expected to reach Earth by 2023, for NASA, and the end of this year for JAXA

Scientists believe rock material will illuminate the building blocks of the solar system as these ancient asteroids took shape billions of years ago, before life as we know it began

The lower half of the images is dominated by the spacecraft’s sampling arm, the Touch-And-Go (TAGSAM) sample acquisition mechanism

The round head of the arm was the only part of the spacecraft that hit the asteroid, making contact for about six seconds

And upon contact, the spacecraft approached Bennu at around 02 mph then retreated at around 09 mph

NASA said: « In the middle of the image sequence, the sampling head positions itself to make direct contact with the asteroid surface

« On first contact, the TAGSAM head seems to crush part of the porous rock below

« A second later, the spacecraft fires a nitrogen gas cylinder, which mobilizes a substantial amount of material from the sampling site »

The NASA spacecraft has been instructed to land at Nightingale, a relatively clear surface area measuring less than 100 square meters – the equivalent of five parking spaces

Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator of NASA’s Science Missions Directorate tweeted last night: « Unpublished image from our trip #ToBennuAndBack

« Yesterday @OSIRISREx captured these photos showing a spaceship hitting Benny, sinking into its surface and stirring material

Asteroid Bennu itself is estimated to be about a third of a mile from its equator, which means it’s about as wide as the Empire State Building is tall

Space rock circles the Sun every 12 years and a day on Bennu lasts only 43 hours

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Bennu likely broke away from a much larger, carbon-rich asteroid 700 million to two billion years ago

NASA astronomers believe it formed in the main asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars, but has drifted further into the system since

NASA said: « Bennu is believed to be a ‘rubble heap’ asteroid, meaning that smaller fragments of the original large asteroid came together to form Bennu

« Bennu’s little pieces stay together because of gravity and another force scientists call ‘cohesion’, which causes soils and sands to stick together »

And yet, between 20 and 40% of the asteroid would be empty space

Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator at the University of Arizona at Tucson, said: “After more than a decade of planning, the team is delighted with the success of the today

« While we have some work to do to determine the outcome of the event, the successful contact, TAGSAM gas firing and Bennu’s recoil are major accomplishments for the team

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World News – UK – NASA News: «  Never Seen Before  » Images Show When OSIRIS-REx Landed on Asteroid Bennu



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